China asks Russia to delay Ukraine war until after Olympics, US officials say

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China asks Russia to delay Ukraine war until after Olympics, US officials say

China and Russia have been strengthening their economic, diplomatic and military ties for years. Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin met 37 times as national leaders before discussions in Beijing ahead of the Olympics. The ambitious joint statement issued by the two countries during that meeting alarmed US and European officials, especially because it was the first time China had explicitly sided with Russia on issues related to NATO and European security. European leaders have denounced China and Russia in recent weeks, including in speeches at the Munich Security Conference.

For months, some US officials tried to enlist China in efforts to avert war in Ukraine.

Days after President Biden spoke to Mr. Xi in a video summit on November 15, senior US officials decided to present intelligence to senior Chinese officials on the build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine to help them stand up to Mr. Putin. To try to persuade to happen. The Americans spoke to Chinese Ambassador to Washington Qin Gang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In half a dozen meetings between US officials and the Chinese ambassador in Washington hours before the Russian offensive, Chinese officials expressed doubts that Mr Putin would invade Ukraine, US officials said.

US officials said that after a diplomatic exchange in December, US officials received intelligence that Beijing had shared information with Moscow, told the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord and that China was trying to sow Russian plans. and will not seek to disrupt operations, US officials said.

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US intelligence findings and assessments of Russian plans for the invasion of Ukraine have generally been accurate. The Americans began a campaign primarily to share intelligence with allies and partner countries and to publicly present unclassified material to pressure Russia to stop any planned invasion. CIA Director William J. Burns flew to Moscow on 2 November to confront the Russians, and on 17 November US intelligence officers shared their findings with NATO.

According to several officials briefed on London intelligence, British officials had assessed that an attack by Mr Putin before the Olympics was possible, but unlikely. It was based partly on Western intelligence reports, but mostly on an analytical assessment that Russia’s plan to lift Western sanctions relied on China’s support and the assumption that Mr. Putin would not risk offending Mr. Xi.

British officials also assessed that the joint statement issued by Mr Putin and Mr Xi in early February was a clear sign of China’s support, something Beijing would have been reluctant to give if Mr Putin oversaw the Olympics by making his debut. were ready to do. Attack before the end of the Games, according to people familiar with British thinking.

American intelligence officials noticed that Moscow was making final preparations around 10 February, similar movements that immediately preceded an attack.

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